"Well, I make very good rear ends," she laughed. "But you do need to be able to draw when you work as much on commission as I have. Your client needs to see what you're only describing, so I make drawings or maquettes. Then I have to become my own fabricator and make the piece and sometimes that is more mechanical. Although I would say that commissions push me in a way that has led me into new areas - when I have to design in terms of the context where a piece will be and consider things I wouldn't if I were just doing something for myself."
Abend also wanted to point out the arresting three-part wall sculpture "Remnants," made in 2005, three oblong pieces of cast bronze with parts of her face emerging in pieces from each surface. I remembered seeing this in her studio when I had first visited and found it retains its hold now.
"This started out as wax remnants from something else," she commented, "and it just wanted to be made. It's so different from the original piece - really very dark and distorted and emotional. I had an idea of the patina I wanted but I rushed it and it turned green on me."
Even more emotional for Abend, she says, are the series of cast resins she had made, which may include tiny cast metal figures or clear casts of her own face and hands. They are technically difficult - when she began working on them there was some question of whether the material could even do what she aimed for - and demanding in other ways.
"The resins ask of a lot of you!" she said. "They are mechanically difficult, they are physically hard to do, they are dangerous because the material takes planning and safety measures and time, and the final grinding and polishing is quite a commitment. And I did these alone. I wanted to work with refractions so I gave them many surfaces - that's why all these pieces are on turntables so you can see through them from every angle - and I worked with the cracks and bubbles that have been part of the process. And they have been the most emotional for me of any of the work. I started with that one, 'Breaking Out," which has to do with my need thirty years ago to have more than a life as wife and mother, and this last one, from this year, 'Fascinating Failure,' seems like the opposite - my hands are covering my eyes - like the need to keep from seeing what's ahead. But will I do more? Well, never say never."